Fake facebook profiles on the rise

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FILE
FILE

The use of hacked or fake Facebook profiles is on the rise with growing numbers of people being deceived and often losing large sums of money.

Police and NetSafe have today issued a warning over the fake profiles.

In one of the latest incidents the former chief executive of Air New Zealand, Sir Ralph Norris, discovered three fake Facebook profiles using his name and it's not the first time that one of New Zealand's most renowned business leaders has experienced the fraudulent use of his profile.

Towards the end of last year it was discovered that a criminal using Norris's name on Facebook had successfully convinced at least two people to part with large sums of money.

"I am hugely frustrated that this is happening again. People are trading on my name in an attempt to make victims out of good people," he said.

"I have never had a social media account and would implore people to verify who they are speaking to before they decide to part with their hard earned money."

Detective Senior Sergeant Iain Chapman of the Auckland Financial Crime Unit said scammers are organised criminals who do everything they can to appear legitimate.

"This includes using the names of well-known people in an effort to gain trust. Unfortunately this is a problem that is not going to go away and people need to become more vigilant when conducting their business online," he said.

"Use Google to your advantage - if someone is using a fake profile it is highly likely there will be commentary on the internet about it. Remember, if you are being asked by someone online to send or handle money on their behalf, you are most likely being scammed."

NetSafe Operations Manager Lee Chisholm said that with more than 1.5 billion Facebook users the platform has become a high profile target for various scams.

"We'd encourage people to research any offer that's presented to them. We regularly receive reports of fake profiles and pages being used to promote anything from free airline flights to suspect medical and beauty trial offers," she said.

"Accounts can also be compromised and used to scam friends and family so it pays to review your privacy settings, be aware of what information you share online and protect your account with a strong, unique password."

"As more of us use mobile apps, these scams can also appear on platforms like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp and other services such as Tinder which pulls in profile data from Facebook."

If you're suspicious about an item appearing in your newsfeed or messages coming from a suspect page or profile you should report it to the company directly using the tools provided or get in touch with NZ Police or NetSafe who can provide assistance.

- Rotorua Daily Post

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